Southern Palawan towns excited for major development projects

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, July 4 (PNA) — The municipalities of Balabac, Bataraza and Rizal in southern Palawan are eagerly awaiting the implementation of the provincial government of several major projects that could boost their developments and uplift the standards of living of their residents.

According to Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, who turned 70 on June 29, the gift he wanted for himself is to see southern Palawan and its municipalities experience the growth they deserve after many years of floundering in poverty, particularly the residents, who live in distantly-located barangays that have pitiable access to almost everything.

In interviews, the province’s governor said that soon after the middle of this year, the operation of the Roll On, Roll Off (RoRo) ferry service link between Palawan, Philippines and Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia will begin and is expected to bring development to trade and commerce in the provincial southern part.

Alvarez said the RoRo link is positive since President Benigno Aquino III’ administration is also ensuring that it happens to bring much-needed changes in southern Palawan and its people.

“When this starts, tourists and businessmen, who want to go to Malaysia via the RoRo bus from Mangsee, Balabac to Kudat can already do so,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez called on students in southern Palawan to finish their courses satisfactorily this year to be able to obtain their legal documents and passports to work abroad since there are 20,000 jobs waiting for them in Malaysia.

The governor said the trade link between the Philippines and Malaysia through Palawan is a potential they should not miss, and it will only happen for them if they finish with good scholastic records.

He disclosed too, that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is now working double time to rehabilitate and cement 45 kilometers of road from Barangay Rio Tuba, Bataraza to Barangay Buliluyan, Balabac at the southernmost tip of Palawan.

Cementing the said national road can have positive effects on businesses and other interests in Bataraza and Balabac towns, including farmers and fishermen who depend on their fish catch and farm harvests since they can already bring them faster to the town market to sell.

Alvarez furthered that the national government, per directive by President Aquino, will place as soon as possible locations that are not connected to the power grid under the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

This means areas in southern Palawan that have no 24/7 electricity supplies will get to enjoy them, “hopefully, starting next year,” according to him.

Beginning January next year, and when the heavy equipment the provincial government ordered arrives in December this year, Alvarez said he will be frequenting his monitoring all over Palawan to ensure that roads are fixed finally for easy access, particularly to the people who live in far-flung barangays and other remote territorial enclaves that form them.

Roads are important, he said, for development to continue to flow without easing off for residents, who depend on the yields of their farm and other livelihood activities.

In Rizal, Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Narra, Sofronio Española, Quezon, and Aborlan – all in the southern part of the province, the governor said the coffee and cacao projects he signed with Rocky Mountain Arabica Coffee Co. (RMACC) and Kennemer Foods International Inc. (KFII) will push through.

He said that currently, the provincial government and the technical working group (TWG) he created to put it together, is now implementing coffee and cacao skills and technical training of residents, who are interested to avail of the project.

The provincial government, he additionally said, has also set aside P14 million for the purchase of cattle for initial distribution to beneficiaries in the towns of Bataraza, Rizal, and Balabac.

The governor added he is now in regular communication with the owner of the vessel in General Santos that will transport the cattle to Palawan.

The distribution of cattle is part of the platform of government he presented when he campaigned and ran in 2013.

Aside from these, the provincial government of Palawan also took a loan of P300 million, he stated, from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) that will be used for the construction of a seaweed processing factory in Bataraza, as well as the rehabilitation of its fish port.

Alvarez said families can earn as much as P400,000 annually through seaweeds if they have the knowledge on how to engage in the business properly.

“All these are for us to be able to lower the 63.8% poverty index that we have in the province. I appeal, of course, to all Palaweños to support their provincial government in all these endeavors,” he said. (PNA)